One Wish

Start with the hum of a sump pump doused in sewage, the clangs and thunks of a jungle gym coming down in the rain. Let them echo off the tile in the part of the back porch your grandma called the utility room. Save that phrase. Use it for years. Find a garter snake caught in a mousetrap. Push it outside with your big toe, to that part of the garden you used to run through when the sprinkler was on. Remember your first cousin’s first husband, the way he ran with you, showed you pictures of a wedding you’d never seen. Remember the couple who lived next door who knew what time Alvin and the Chipmunks was on, the man on the motorcycle who worked midnights, who made you think there was something wrong with being loud. In the window at the kitchen sink is a statue of a gorilla cursing. You stand by the refrigerator pushing around the alphabet, waiting for your Kid’s Cuisine. If you’re lucky you’ll go into town for the double cheeseburger meal. You’ll dip the bun in ketchup and refill your Coke all by yourself. You’ll lose your socks in the ball pit and nobody will care. You’ll go home and throw the cushions from the couches on the floor, remove your shirt and call yourself the great Splinter. You’ll stamp letters on sheet after sheet after sheet of paper. You’ll make something perfect out of playdough. You’ll wish you had kept it. You’ll wish you could produce it for people you barely know.

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